It’s been too long since my last People You Should Know feature. I’ve been meeting a lot of great people lately and one of those happens to be Sonny Gill. Currently residing in Virginia Beach, Sonny shares my love for all things social media. He started blogging back in December 2007 and shares great insight over on Twitter.
Be sure to check him out and link up, thanks Sonny!
*Next post will be on Feb. 23
You’re got over 1,600 followers on Twitter. Give us some insight on how you manage your conversation stream.
SG: The thing with having such a deep community around me, which I’m lucky to be a part of and learn from every day, is that engaging them has become second nature. There are lots of posts, articles, messages, etc. that are being tweeted every single minute and though I admit, it takes a lot of time and effort to stay afloat of the conversations, immersing yourself within the community and showing that you put conversation over broadcasting will show your commitment to connecting with them and make it reciprocal.
Engagement really becomes a two-way street and once you build value in your own stream through conversation and sharing relevant information, your community will build off this and want to engage with you as well, thus building a mutually beneficial relationship.
2008 seemed to be the year when CEOs and executives finally started to open up to the value of social media. What aspect of social media do you foresee being the hot topic of conversation by the time 2010 rolls around?
SG: What I think the conversation will be centered on this whole year, as 2010 comes closer is Community. We’re immersed in social communities on a daily basis but what 2009 will bring is the evolution of corporate communities. 2008 was the ‘shiny-toy syndrome’ boom, where many companies were engulfed in the tools vs. understanding the strategies that were needed to utilize these tools and to make them work.
As talked about already, engaging your community and initiating the conversation is vital in building those relationships. We as consumers have become smarter and evolved along with these new strategies, as we now want human contact with companies and to be the voice for them. That’s really what social media is about – the communication you have with your community and the relationships built within. As companies begin to let go of control and allow their community’s voice to be heard, advocates will be born and will be more than willing to evangelize your company.
In addition to Community, will be the growth of the Community Manager (only fitting, right?). Communities for Apple and Coke are typically created with little effort, but we’re not all Apple or Coke. For small and big businesses alike, having a Community Manager that helps implement these social media tools and strategies will be a big hire (as it has been already) this year. They’ll be there to help cultivate these communities but to also be the customer support for any issues or problems that a community member may have.
Social media can seem overwhelming if you’re not actively engaged. What are three tips you provide to newbies looking to get started?
SG: Well, the first tip I’d recommend is to observe and see what is being talked about on the network you’re looking to join. Getting a feel for the community, the people you look to connect with and understanding the social norms that come with that network (many have crashed and burned without having a full grasp of this), will be helpful before jumping right in.
Next, dive in! Get your feet wet and check it out. You’ve taken a look at what’s happening on Twitter, FriendFeed, etc. – now connect with those influential people you look up to, your friends, your colleagues. Don’t be afraid to chat it up or reach out to people you don’t even know. That’s the beauty of social media – you’re connecting with new people every day, building new relationships and yes, even making friends (I know I have).
Lastly, take it easy. There’s no need to have the heaviest social media tool belt in the land. Signing up for every social network won’t get you anywhere and will end up burning you out – quick. Get a grasp of one specific network, let’s say Twitter for example, and understand the ins and outs and build your community there. Focus on bringing value to your followers and building on those relationships.
The value you bring to the table will be evident and will help nurture future communities you aim to build, as you will be more recognized and respected from your presence on Twitter than you would have with creating a profile on 20 different networks.